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Passenger’s gun accidentally discharges at airport, authorities say


(ATLANTA) — A passenger accidentally discharged a gun at the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport Saturday, airport officials said, causing panic and sending travelers onto the tarmac on one of the busiest travel weekends of the year.

The incident occurred around 1:30 pm local time at the security screening area, the airport said in an update on Twitter.

“There is not an active shooter,” the airport said. “There is no danger to passengers or employees.”

A passenger accidentally discharged the gun at the main checkpoint, TSA said in a statement to ABC News.

During a bag search, the X-ray identified a prohibited item, TSA said.

The transportation security officer “advised the passenger not to touch the property, and as he opened the compartment containing the prohibited item, the passenger lunged into the bag and grabbed a firearm, at which point it discharged,” TSA said. “The passenger then fled the area, running out of the airport exit.”

Three people sustained non-life-threatening injuries, likely during the airport evacuation, a TSA spokesperson said.

Atlanta Police Department was on site investigating the incident.

About two hours after the discharge, the airport was given an “all-clear” to resume normal operations, airport officials said.

The shooting caused chaos and confusion. Videos taken by travelers showed the panicked moments after the discharge, with people running out of the terminal. Other travelers could be seen huddled lying on the ground.

Travelers reported being stuck on the tarmac or in baggage claim after the incident, Atlanta ABC affiliate WSB reported.

TSA said its officers have detected more than 450 firearms at the Atlanta airport’s checkpoints so far this year.

“This incident underscores the importance of checking personal belongings for dangerous items before leaving for the airport,” TSA said in a statement. “Firearms, particularly loaded firearms, introduce an unnecessary risk at checkpoints, have no place in the passenger cabin of an airplane, and represent a very costly mistake for the passengers who attempt to board a flight with them.”

The incident occurred during what is shaping up to be the busiest travel weekend since the start of the pandemic due to Thanksgiving — at the busiest airport in the United States.

Transportation Security Administration officers screened 2,242,956 people at airport security checkpoints nationwide Friday — the “highest checkpoint volume since passenger volume tanked in early 2020 as a result of the pandemic,” TSA spokesperson Lisa Farbstein said.

ABC News’ Victoria Arancio and Joshua Hoyos contributed to this report.

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